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Leona Carlson

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LEONA (YOUNGQUIST) CARLSON, 88 ROCKFORD - Leona (Youngquist) Carlson, 88, lifelong resident of Rockford, died at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, July 4, 2013 in her home at Wesley Willows. Born May 14, 1925 in Rockford, the only child of Clifford and Hilma (Miller) Youngquist. Her father died of heart disease three weeks before she was born, leaving her to the care of her mother and loving relatives. She lived her entire childhood with her mother and beloved maternal grandparents on Parmele Street in southeast Rockford. She loved reading books and as a youngster walked from her home to the Rockford Public Library branch on 11th Street. She graduated in the second class of East High School, attended Rockford College for two years and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1946 where she earned a B.A. with a major in English. She was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority. In 1948 she married Ralph E. Carlson with whom she had two children, Chris and Steve. Her husband predeceased her in 1972. Lifelong member since her confirmation in 1939 of Trinity Lutheran Church where she was an active participant, most notably when she served as co-archivist and helped compile the history of the first 100 years of Trinity Lutheran. She was a longtime board member since 1963 of the Rockford Coronado Concert Association, and she had a life long love affair with the Coronado Theatre. She was secretary of the board of the Rockford Area Arts Council. She was employed for her entire career as a reporter by the Rockford daily newspaper and retired in 1990 from the Rockford Register Star as a celebrated and beloved writer who wrote over 4,000 columns reporting on happenings large and small that touched the lives of Rockford area people. During her career she carried two letters in her purse. One praised her to the skies and the other criticized her unmercifully. She never forgot for whom she worked, her readers, and she never forgot how important it was to get things right. Her colleagues in the newsroom remembered her great smile and effervescent spirit, her positive attitude and her intelligence. After her retirement she was honored with numerous awards of appreciation from many local organizations such as New American Theater, the Men's Garden Club, Rosecrance Center, Tinker Cottage, P.A. Peterson Home and others. Her writing also reflected her own passions. She loved Rockford and its rich history, especially Tinker Cottage. She was proud of her Swedish immigrant ancestry and Rockford's Erlander Home and the Swedish Historical Society. She was a great patriot and she never forgot the boys who left East High School for military service in World War II. It is ironic that she died on her favorite national holiday, Independence Day. She was a visible and committed advocate and patron of the arts. She and her dear friend, the late Armer Ahlstrand, were regulars at concerts and opening nights at the theater, especially New American Theater which they loved and nurtured from its beginning. And, after the performance, nothing was better for her than a great party. She loved to sing and play the piano, and from when her grandchildren were very young they knew Grandma's favorite song, "Shine On Harvest Moon." She never wanted to be in the limelight, except possibly when she was on the dance floor. How she loved to dance! Friends and family were everything to her, and she is remembered by longtime neighbors for singing "Skol! Skol! Skol!" as she ladled flaming Swedish glogg at Christmastime. In her retirement she enjoyed her four grandchildren, travel, spending time with friends, eating chocolate or a bowl of popcorn as she watched Illini sports. As her life narrowed from the complications of Alzheimer's disease, she always smiled at the mention of her grandchildren and tapped her feet to the beat of a good Swing Era dance song. Survivors include her daughter, Christine Carlson Chapman of Rockford; her son, Steven R. Carlson of Fresno, CA; her grandchildren, Collin Chapman Springfield, IL, Elizabeth Chapman of Atlanta, GA, Julia Chapman of Eureka, CA, Aimee Carlson (Bryan) Reed of Yorba Linda, CA, great grandson Brayden Reed of Yorba Linda, CA.; several cousins, and devoted special friend, Dick Myrland of Rockford. Predeceased by parents and husband. The family would like to thank the staff of Wesley Willows and the VNA Hospice for their extraordinary care. Memorial service at 4 p.m. Friday, July 12 in Trinity Lutheran Church, with the the Rev. Jay Quinn officiating. Private burial in Scandinavian Cemetery. Visitation 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 11 in Fred C. Olson Funeral Chapels, East Chapel, 1001 Second Avenue. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests memorials to Trinity Lutheran Church, Rockford Community Concert Association (RCCA) or the of Illinois. To share a memory or online condolence, visit olsonfh.com.
Published in Rockford Register Star from July 7 to July 8, 2013
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